Traveling by Bike

4 Feb

Along with making plans and setting goals for the new year, we have been busy putting together several trips including a couple of bicyling tours set for later this year. The first will be in May for a week riding across a large part of Missouri on the Katy Trail, about 230 miles. We will not be roughing it, unless you consider riding an average of 40 miles a day roughing it, which we don’t – we consider that fun! We signed up with a company that will transport our luggage each day to the inn or B & B in the next town we will be staying in, all we have to do is get ourselves there riding our bikes. There will be no support van on this trip. All in all it will be 6 days of riding. the daily mileage will be low enough that we can take our time and stop along the way to smell the roses. Not having to hassle with carrying our stuff with us will make the trip easier to plan and do. Almost all of the riding will be off road on hard packed crushed limestone trail. There are a couple of towns that seem neat and worth checking out and a good number of wineries that we will definitely visit.

The other tour is epic – at least in our minds. We will ride from Burlington, VT to Quebec City, QE in late August/early September. A seven day fully supported tour, they furnish us with a bike, helmet, bike bag, support van tagging along with refreshments and a ride if we get too tired that day to pedal, most meals and all lodging accomodations. The tour company is Sojourn Tours a small company that gets excellent reviews. After we ride to Quebec City we are going to spend a few more days there to see the sights and visit the surrounding area – by car!
There will be a total of 18 people on the tour plus three staff from Sojourn. The tour will take us through what looks to be amazing scenery on lightly travelled backroads. You can ride as much or as little as you want each day, but in total if you ride the entire distance, will be 380 miles. It probably goes without saying that we plan/hope to ride it all. This is the type of trip we’ve wanted to do for some time and will be riding and training for it in the months leading up.
We are presently looking for touring bikes to ride on the Katy because our “road bikes” we have now aren’t practical for the limestone trail. Touring bikes look similar to a regular road bike with drop handlebars but have more of a relaxed geometry (for those long hours in the saddle) and also wider tires. They also are heavier bikes because of the steel frames, but as they say, “steel is real” and provides durability and comfort both of which are more important for touring than the lightness of carbon fiber.
The difficulty in finding a touring bike is that to a large extent they are a thing of the past. Bike shops don’t typically have them in stock because they don’t sell that many. Same is true for steel frame bikes in general, except they are making somewhat of a comeback due to the fixie/singlespeed craze. It looks like it is going to come down to us researching the various bikes online (which we have been doing for weeks), selecting one and then crossing our fingers and ordering it from a LBS (local bike shop). At least if we order them locally they can help insure we get the right size by their extensive fit process and if we still end up with something that doesn’t fit us perfectly we can exchange it for something that does.
You can’t imagine how many different bikes and companies there are now. It’s mind-boggling. Biking is much more popular in the U.S. thanks predominately to Lance Armstrong and as a consequence there are a lot of companies offering a multitude of bikes at a wide range of prices – from a few hundred dollars to over $14,000. There are many very good bikes for under $1,000 and many good bikes for $300-$500.
We have our bike picks narrowed down to two, but unfortunately none of the LBS in the state have either in stock so we will be making our selection without having ridden them (imagine buying a car without driving it first). Not something we want to do but hopefully by doing all the research and getting a good fitting done prior to we will end up with a perfect “fit”.
We are looking forward to getting the bikes and taking our first cycling vacations. Happy Trails!
P. S. ~I came across this website for America By Bicycle – now we are planning tours for 2011!

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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